Lane claims maiden Grafton 2 Inverell in record time
UPDATED: 3.00pm: In a show of local dominance Grafton Cycle Club rider Jye Reardon has proven his massive amount of kilometres on the bike have paid off with the cyclist claiming C Grade honours in the 56th Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.
Reardon finished the race in an impressive 6 hours 50.21 minutes more than 18 seconds ahead of the next Inverell RSM Club C Grade finisher Port Macquarie's Ashley Stapley.
Coffs Harbour Cycle Club's Daniel Alcox made the trip up the Pacific Highway worthwhile taking out the honours in the Fencing North West B Grade competition.
Alcox completed the gruelling 228km Cycle Classic in 6 hours 33.51 minutes more than 10 seconds ahead of Mudgee's Paul Wilks.
UPDATED 2.00pm: Avanti Isowhey Sports Team have sent a clear message to their National Road Series competition with a commanding start to the 2016 series in the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.
Avanti Isowhey rider 24-year-old Patrick Lane claimed his maiden Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic today setting a blistering pace of 5hrs 57.55minutes in perfect conditions.
In what is a clear nod to the conditions and new time slot in May, it has been confirmed that Lane's time is a new Grafton to Inverell race record.
The leading Australian team dominated the lead peloton throughout the gruelling climb over the Gibraltar Range giving them a perfect foundation to claim two podium placings (Patrick Shaw =3rd) but also have six team riders finish in the top ten A Grade competitors.
As well as claiming third overall Patrick Shaw put in a fantastic performance to claim both jerseys including the brutal final stage from Glen Innes to Inverell.
This sees Andrew Christie-Johnson's men take a commanding lead in the team classification standings and with four riders among the point-getters from the first NRS event.
Nathan Elliot of Kenyan Riders Downunder claimed a very tight second place racing Lane nose to nose into Inverell.
Yamba's Aaron Watts now racing for AMR Renault on the Gold Coast finished the cycle classic in 16th place in the lead peloton finishing 3.43 minutes outside the leader.
Inverell's Dylan Sunderland also finished 3.43 minutes off the leader with Watts.
Both B-Grade and C-Grade are yet to have any riders across the line at this stage. We will continue to update when the information comes through.
EARLIER: More than 250 avid cyclists met the starter for this year's Grafton 2 Inverell Cycle Classic.
The riders are currently undergoing the treacherous 228km journey across the Gibraltar Range and on to the finish line in Inverell.
Regining A Grade champion Sean Lake was among a host of hungry National Road Series competitors who launched from the start line on Prince St at 7.30.
The Daily Examiner caught up with Lake on the start line before the race with the rider suggesting he was in peak condition in his attempt at winning the race for an unheard third time in a row.
"I think the body has come up really well, I have been doing a lot of endurance training recently and the long stuff has prepare me well for this race," Lake said.
"This is pretty much the toughest one day cycle race in the country and at the end of it all it is just who will fatigue less will come out on top.
"It will come down to who is still standing with some power left in their legs for the final push to Inverell."
Lake arrived in Grafton on Thursday with his Avanti Isowhey Sports Team including former New Zealand road cycling champion Joe Cooper.
The team have been out on the hills of Ramornie in the last couple of days getting acclimatised to the conditions and Lake believed they bwould work as a unit in the race.
"We are absolutely looking to ride as a team, it should be really handy keeping us at the front of the race," he said.
Despite having the three-peat success in sight Lake was focussed on completing the race first and worrying about accolades later.
"I am really looking forward to racing," he said. "I haven't put much thought into winning it for a third time in a row but that would be ridiculously special.
"I am just trying to think about enjoying the race, I always look back at that road with fond memories."
The riders got away to a good start with A Grade leaders passing through Jackadgery by 9.30 this morning. The riders are expected to cross the finish line at 1.30 today when we will crown the 56th Grafton to Inverell champion.
A friendly reminder to readers that the Gwydir Highway will be closed from 7.30 today until 1.30 this afternoon. The road closure begins at the Tindal Road turnoff and continues until Inverell.
The road will be reopened in sections but it is advised drivers plan alternate routes if travelling West.
You can keep up with where the cyclists are during the race with the Grafton 2 Inverell live cycle tracker which you will find here.